Written by: Ana Maria Fucek
Fact checked by Alex Windsor  
Updated: January 30, 2024

Online casino gambling is heavily restricted in the US, with only six states having legalized the activity at the time of writing this. The limited legal landscape prompted the emergence of sweepstakes casinos, which circumvent strict federal casino gaming laws by using virtual currency. This unique and innovative approach provides a legal route for players in most US states to enjoy casino-style games and win real prizes.

Besides federal oversight, states also have the authority to regulate sweepstakes casinos. While these casinos are accessible in most US states, specific regions implement laws to restrict online gaming to varying degrees. This article discusses sweepstakes casino gaming laws by state to help you understand how to have a safe, legal, and enjoyable gambling experience.

Are Sweepstakes Casinos Legal in the US?

Absolutely! Sweepstakes casinos are legal in all US states except Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Michigan. While traditional online casinos are only constitutional in six states (Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) and Rhode Island to join the group in March 2024, sweepstakes platforms offer widespread availability, allowing players from states with strict internet gambling laws to legally enjoy casino gaming services.

Unlike regular gaming sites where players gamble with real money, sweepstakes casinos use virtual currency (gold coins and sweeps coins), which enables them to achieve legality in most US states. Gold coins have no real value and cannot be exchanged for cash. On the other hand, sweeps coins have monetary value and can be redeemed for real money.

Another important difference between these currencies is that you can purchase gold coins, but sweeps coins are never for sale. Instead, you receive free sweeps coins as part of gold coin packages or via various bonuses or contests.

Everything You Need to Know About Sweepstake Legality in the US

As stated earlier, sweepstakes casinos operate with virtual currency – gold coins and sweeps coins – and this is crucial to their legality. To understand how sweepstakes casinos maintain legal status, let’s delve into the fundamental aspects of gambling as defined by federal laws:

  • Chance: Refers to the random nature of determining outcomes in sweepstakes casino games. The winners are randomly chosen, guaranteeing every player has a fair chance at claiming the prize, regardless of skill level.
  • Prize: Anything of value that players can win in sweepstakes casinos, often in the form of cash rewards or gift cards. The anticipation of winning is a significant motivator for participation.
  • Consideration: Involves exchanging money for the opportunity to play casino games. On traditional online casinos, consideration comes in the form of placing cash wagers to play games, and this is the primary delineating factor between these sites and sweepstakes platforms.

Social casinos can achieve legal status by eliminating one or more of these key elements. Legal sweepstakes casinos remove consideration since players use virtual currency instead of placing real cash bets. Social casino operators generally provide means of free entry to ensure that players do not have to make a purchase to become eligible for cash prizes. These platforms give out free coins with which you can enjoy your favorite games and possibly win real money prizes at no cost.

Unlock 57,500 GC + 27.5 FREE SC
1.5M WOW Coins + 35 Free Sweeps Coins
5 Sweeps Coins, 250 Game Coins, and 600 Diamonds
367,000 GC + 32.3 Free SC
630,000 Free Coins + $14 Fortune Coins No Deposit Bonus

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for regulating sweepstakes casinos in the US at the federal level. For sweeps casinos to be considered legal, the commission requires them to adhere to the no purchase necessary law. This way, players can win cash prizes without spending a dime.

Real Contests And Prizes

The FTC also mandates sweepstakes casino operators to provide an alternate mode of entry (AMOE) for obtaining free sweeps coins. To fulfill this requirement, most sweepstakes casinos offer a mail-in bonus, where players can send handwritten letters to their headquarters requesting sweeps coins. Additionally, legal sweepstakes casinos must provide clear information on their terms and conditions page detailing the available prizes, odds of winning, and the steps involved in claiming a prize.

Individual states also enact laws to regulate online gambling within their borders. States like Washington completely prohibit the activity, and others like Idaho and Nevada restrict users from redeeming cash prizes with sweeps coins.

State-by-State Legality

In addition to federal laws, states also exert regulatory control on social casinos. Generally, sweepstakes casinos can operate legally in most US states as long as they adhere to federal regulations. However, specific states enforce additional regulations, while some ban all forms of online gaming, including sweepstakes operations. Here is a list of all the states where sweepstakes casinos are legal:

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Arkansas
  5. California
  6. Colorado
  7. Connecticut
  8. Delaware
  9. Florida
  10. Georgia
  11. Hawaii
  12. Illinois
  13. Indiana
  14. Iowa
  15. Kansas
  16. Kentucky
  17. Louisiana
  18. Maine
  19. Maryland
  20. Massachusetts
  21. Minnesota
  22. Mississippi
  23. Missouri
  24. Montana
  25. Nebraska
  26. New Hampshire
  27. New Jersey
  28. New Mexico
  29. New York
  30. North Carolina
  31. North Dakota
  32. Ohio
  33. Oklahoma
  34. Oregon
  35. Pennsylvania
  36. Rhode Island
  37. South Carolina
  38. South Dakota
  39. Tennessee
  40. Texas
  41. Utah
  42. Vermont
  43. Virginia
  44. Washington
  45. West Virginia
  46. Wisconsin
  47. Wyoming

States Where Sweepstakes Are Illegal

Certain states also impose restrictions on sweepstakes sites, particularly concerning prize redemption. The best way to verify if an online casino accepts and pays out real money prizes to players from your state is by reading its terms and conditions or an in-depth review on our page. Although sweepstakes online casinos are technically legal in the following states, there are certain restrictions you should be aware of:

  • Washington: This is the only state that prohibits sweepstakes casinos entirely, so players from WA are usually unable to even register on social gaming sites.
  • Idaho: If you reside in Idaho, you will be unable to play games in sweepstakes casinos with sweeps coins. The state’s gambling laws prohibit residents from receiving cash prizes for playing games of chance like sweepstakes titles. You can only win real cash prizes for playing games of skill.
  • Nevada: The situation in Nevada is similar to what we have in Idaho. Players can enjoy casino-style games with free gold coins but cannot enter promotional competitions using sweeps coins.
  • Michigan: In September 2023, Golden Hearts Games was ordered to cease operations in Michigan following some state investigations. Recently, VGW, the parent company of LuckyLand Slots and Chumba Casino, announced it would be pulling out of the state by February 2024. However, I don’t think Michigan’s crackdown on sweepstakes casinos should be that much of a bother since it is one of the 6 states where traditional online casinos are legal.
  • Wyoming and Utah: I noticed that sweepstakes casinos owned by A1 Development LLC are restricted in Wyoming and Utah. These casinos include NoLimitCoins, Funrize, and TaoFortune.

Eligibility To Participate In Contests

What Happens If You Play in an Illegal Online Sweepstake Casino?

Playing casino games in an illegal sweepstakes casino can lead to serious consequences, both legally and financially.

  • Legal Consequences: Depending on the jurisdiction and severity of the violation, you may have to pay fines or even face criminal charges. For example, illegal online gaming is a Class C felony in Washington, and offenders face penalties of up to 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. In most states, however, playing games on illegal sites is classified as a misdemeanor.
  • Financial Risks: If a sweepstakes casino flagrantly flouts a state’s gambling laws, you already know it won’t adhere to fair gaming practices, and there’s no guarantee you’ll ever receive your winnings. Also, illegal sites hardly adhere to standard security measures, potentially exposing your financial information to fraud or theft.
  • Limited Support: Illegal sweepstakes casinos do not prioritize customer support, so if you encounter an issue or have questions, you’re on your own. While they might be eager to help when you’re trying to purchase virtual currency, they are often nowhere to be found once it is time to pay out winnings.

Meet Ana Maria, a dedicated professional in the dynamic world of sweepstakes. She explores sweepstakes casinos, directs you to the best ones, and simplifies complex casino terminology. Ana is your go-to source for expert guidance on sweepstakes, ensuring an engaging and rewarding gaming experience. Join her for an adventure into the secrets of increasing winnings and savoring the spirit of sweepstakes fun.